WRONGFUL DEATH and Penn State University(PSU)

The father of a deceased Penn State Altoona student and fraternity member is suing the university, the national Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity, two officers of the Altoona campus fraternity – Eric Traister and Andrew O’Connor – and others in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

Well that was the headline from the Altoona Mirror newspaper a few days ago.

In any wrongful death case, the estate of the person who died must prove that the death was the result of the action or inaction of the defendants.

Did the actions of the fraternity cause or play a significant factor in the students death?

For Penn State University the legal issue is did the failure of the university to police or prevent some tragedy like this factor in the students death?

Sometimes an entire wrongful death claim will rise or fall on the ability to prove that the actions of the defendant caused the decedents death.

The defense in this case may be the students was already suffering from depression and their actions did not seriously contribute to the students death.

Maybe they will say something like we could not have foreseen that our actions would lead to this tragedy.

In other words, we are not responsible for it.

Legally if the defendant is not responsible for a person’s death then the estate of the decedent cannot collect $$ under either the wrongful death or survivor actions.

Parents and society in general take the issue of hazing, bullying and harassing of students very seriously.After all, this very thing could happen to any  parents child.

Pittsburgh wrongful death, medical malpractice, car accident and slip and fall attorney Bernie Tully has represented many clients in wrongful death cases.

Sometimes I am very surprised when I first meet with the family representatives in these type of cases.


Because in a lot of these wrongful death cases, the parents of a child who has died or has been killed are not concerned about getting a $$$ recovery.

They are more concerned about making sure a tragic situation like this does not repeat itself.

I do not know what the particulars are of this lawsuit involving  Penn State University and the fraternities.

But I would not be surprised if the family of the student who died are more concerned with preventing this from happening again then they are of making $$ off of their child’s death.

In this case it will be necessary to take a lot of depositions of various people to determine just what led to the students tragic death.

But that is the beauty of the law.

It allows for a search for the truth in a wrongful death situation. And maybe just maybe a chance to right a wrong.

That’s how I see it.

Thanks for reading.

Bernie the attorney.